Most ‘luxury’ wallets are terrible. Almost every wallet made by every luxury fashion conglomerate brand is cheaply-made and overpriced. A luxury fashion conglomerate is a company which owns or controls other smaller companies in the luxury fashion market. There are relatively small number of conglomerates which control a large percentage of luxury fashion and small leather goods. Those conglomerates (and their subsidiary brands) are:
- LVMH - (Dior, Givenchy, Louis Vuitton, Kenzo, Marc Jacobs, Celine, Moynat)
- Kering - (Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga, Gucci, Saint Laurent (YSL), Fendi)
- Richemont - (Chloe, Alaia, Dunhill)
- PUIG - (Carolina Herrera, Jean Paul Gaultier, Nina Ricci)
- Capri Holdings - (Versace, Jimmy Choo, Michael Kors)
- PRADA Group - (Prada, Miu Miu, Church’s)
- Mayhoola Investments/Qatar - (Valentino, Pal Zileri, Balmain)
- OTB - ( Diesel, Maison Margiela, Marni, Viktor & Rolf, Amiri)
These companies are owned by some of the richest people in the world. Most of them are very good at making money, but they are terrible at making wallets. They make money by convincing consumers to pay more than their products are worth - in some cases, a lot more. These companies make terrible wallets. They use slick marketing, fancy storefronts, expensive packaging, concierge service, and logos to convince people that they’re buying a high-quality product.
In reality, however, these wallets are extremely cheap to make. They use cheap materials like PVC-coated canvas, uncoated canvas, plastic, or cheap grained leather (branded as ‘Saffiano’ or ‘EPI’). In most cases, these wallets cost no more than a few dollars to produce, but they are frequently sold for more than $400. These are what I refer to as a premium mediocre good. The term ‘premium mediocre’ was coined by Venkatesh Rao. It refers to the practice of giving the illusion of luxury while not actually offering any luxury at all. The rise of premium mediocre goods has been documented by Eugene Rabkin.
If you own a wallet made by one of the companies above, you paid way too much for it. If you think it’s a fine luxury good, it’s not.
Around this point the reader will typically have a one of the following reactions:
If the reader owns a wallet made by one of these companies then they might think:
“The author is wrong/an idiot/doesn’t understand fashion.”, “The others might be junk by [insert brand] is good.”
This is understandable. The reader doesn’t want to believe they have been duped. The author is may be an idiot but he is not wrong. Other than the logo, these cheaply-made wallets could be recreated elsewhere for a fraction of the price.
“I don’t care about the quality. I just want it for the logo/flexing/flaunting money.”
This is a perfectly acceptable response. These readers needn’t read any further. The author should note that the only people who will be impressed is other people who have no interest in quality. Anyone who knows quality construction or materials will know how much these products are marked up. They won’t be impressed.
“I can’t believe I was fooled.”, or “I always thought it felt cheap but it was from a famous brand so I thought I was wrong.”
You’re not alone. These companies have huge advertising budgets to convince you how great they are. They are probably the only luxury brands you’ve ever seen. You thought they were exclusive and extremely well-made, but you’re reasonable enough to see through the facade when it’s brought to your attention.
If the reader doesn’t own one of these wallets then they might think:
“I knew those companies were a scam. All luxury products are a scam.”
This is also an overreaction. While these global conglomerate brands are certainly terrible value, there are some luxury products that are totally worth the price, in the author’s opinion.
Please check out my recommendations for luxury wallets that are worth the money.